Micropapillary variant of urothelial carcinoma of the urinary bladder; a clinicopathological and immunohistochemical study

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Abstract

Aims

To investigate whether prognosis in micropapillary urothelial carcinoma is related to the proportion of the micropapillary component (MPC), and to identify the immunohistochemical features of MPC.

Methods and results

This study presents a clinicopathological analysis of 20 patients with micropapillary urothelial carcinoma of the bladder with cystectomy specimens for evaluation. Tumours were stratified on the extent of MPC: focal, <10%; moderate, 10–50%; extensive, >50%; and this was correlated with tumour stage and prognosis. Sixteen males and four females were aged 56–81 years (mean 69 years). All cases had high-grade morphology in the micropapillary carcinoma and typical urothelial carcinoma. All cases with extensive MPC (n = 4) were of a high pathological stage (pT3 or pT4) and died of disease (DOD) or other causes. Eighty percent with moderate MPC (eight of 10 cases) were pT3 or pT4 and 50% DOD or are alive with disease. Eighty-four percent with focal MPC (five of six cases) were pT1 or pTa. In high-stage cases, the most invasive component was MPC. High-stage cases had an 85% risk of being advanced at presentation with micropapillary carcinoma. All pT2 or lower stage cases had micropapillary carcinoma on prior transurethral resections of bladder tumour (TURB). High-stage carcinomas had 30% and 54%, respectively, of surface MPC and urothelial carcinoma in situ, in comparison with 85% and 28% in lower stage carcinomas. Immunohistochemical staining was similarly positive in MPC and typical urothelial carcinoma with cytokeratin (CK)7, CK20, epithelial membrane antigen, carcinoembryonic antigen and cytokeratin 34βE12. CA125 staining was seen only in MPC in 43% of cases.

Conclusions

Micropapillary urothelial carcinoma is a high-grade carcinoma in which the prognosis is related to the proportion and location of the MPC. Cases with moderate or extensive MPC are at high risk of being advanced at presentation. Cases with <10% MPC and surface MPC have a high chance of detection at an early stage. The morphology and immunohistochemical profile of the MPC suggest that it is a form of glandular differentiation in urothelial carcinoma.

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